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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

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James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

Preview | Pitt football gears up to renew River City Rivalry with Cincinnati

Redshirt+junior+linebacker+Solomon+Deshields+%2823%29+celebrates+after+a+touchdown+during+Pitt+footballs+game+against+Rhode+Island+on+Sept.+24%2C+2022.
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Redshirt junior linebacker Solomon Deshields (23) celebrates after a touchdown during Pitt football’s game against Rhode Island on Sept. 24, 2022.

After an 11-year hiatus, the River City Rivalry is finally back, as Pitt football will take on Cincinnati on Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium. Since they last met, both programs have changed immensely, leaving some, including Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, to question if the rivalry still exists. 

Nonetheless, this game could define both team’s 2023 seasons, making it a must-watch for college football fans across the country. Here’s what to expect from this clash of old Big East foes. 

Panthers’ defense must contain Cincinnati senior quarterback Emory Jones

Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, Jones is a powerful passer and rusher who can punish the Panthers if they don’t find ways to contain him. Last week against Eastern Kentucky, Jones was responsible for seven total touchdowns, with five touchdown passes and two touchdown runs. 

If the Panthers want to avoid ending up like Eastern Kentucky, they must find ways to contain the senior Bearcats quarterback. One weakness the Panthers can exploit is Jones’ lack of confidence and hesitation in making longer throws. This has caused Jones trouble in the past, especially in his last year at Florida where he had 13 interceptions in 13 games played. Look for the Panthers to try to force Jones into throwing downfield and making mistakes.

One thing Jones excels at is operating out of the pocket. When pressured, Jones can scramble out of danger and make throws outside the pocket. Jones is also a physical runner, who can use his size to break past defenders. This was evident last week when Jones fought through Eastern Kentucky’s offensive line to score a one-yard touchdown right on the goal line. 

Overall, the Panthers’ ability to contain Jones may determine the outcome of the game. If they can pressure Jones and force him to make mistakes, then expect the Victory Lights to shine bright in Oakland. But if they can’t, and Jones uses his physicality to make plays, then expect the Bearcats to have a big day. 

How will Cincinnati head coach Scott Satterfield handle his first big game with the Bearcats?

Before former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell took the reins of the Bearcats in 2017, the team was in poor shape, posting a horrendous 4-8 record in 2016. But through Fickell’s leadership, the Bearcats transformed into one of the nation’s top teams, culminating in a playoff appearance in 2021. 

But now Fickell is gone, as he left Cincinnati to become Wisconsin’s new head coach in 2023. Fickell’s replacement, former Louisville head coach Satterfield, has only coached one game for the Bearcats — a 66-13 rout of Eastern Kentucky in Cincinnati’s season opener. 

While Satterfield’s debut sounds impressive, fans should keep in mind that it was against Eastern Kentucky — an FCS opponent. The Pitt game next week is Satterfield’s first real test as head coach of the Bearcats.

Satterfield actually has a long history of coaching against Pitt. As head coach of Louisville, Satterfield faced off against Narduzzi and the Panthers twice, going 1-1 in those two games. 

Still, the pressure of a renewed rivalry game with Pitt could shake up the new Bearcat head coach as he still tries to find his identity at Cincinnati. 

Will Pitt continue to utilize multiple wide receivers, tight ends and running backs?

One of the biggest storylines coming out of Pitt’s 45-7 win over Wofford was its ability to spread the ball out, utilizing multiple skill players to make plays downfield. In the game, 13 players recorded at least one catch, while eight players recorded at least one rushing yard. 

While much of this was due to Pitt playing a clearly inferior foe, Narduzzi was happy with the idea of spreading the ball out after the win last Saturday. It remains unclear if the Panthers will find one or two star players to run the offense through or if they will continue to utilize their depth. 

Arguably, the tight end unit was most affected by the Panthers’ plan to spread the ball out. Last week, Pitt utilized four tight ends — junior Gavin Bartholomew, redshirt sophomore Jake Renda and redshirt seniors Karter Johnson and Malcolm Epps. Bartholomew is still listed as the starter, but all four are capable of making plays for the Panthers. 

Is it still a rivalry?

With only 12 previous meetings between these two schools, it’s clear that the River City Rivalry lacks any real history, traditions or hostility. Heck, both sides even agreed to end the Paddlewheel trophy — the rivalry’s signature trophy — for this game. 

Here’s the truth — the River CIty Rivalry is dead. It was only truly a rivalry when both teams played in the Big East. But Big East football is gone and these teams haven’t faced off in 11 years. If fans want to see a Pitt rivalry game, just wait one week until the Panthers take on West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. 

Prediction: Pitt shows why the River City Rivalry is no longer a rivalry, trounce Cincinnati 28-14

The Panthers’ defense will step up big time in this one. Expect the Panthers to successfully slice through the Bearcats’ offensive line and put pressure on Jones. Defensive linemen Dayon Hayes and redshirt senior David Green will need to have big games, but they are both more than capable of stepping up. 

On offense, redshirt senior Phil Jurkovec will also have a big game, throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. 

Ultimately, the Panthers cruise past the Bearcats in an eye-opening victory. 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor